Chattanooga, TN April 15, 2010
Tunica, MS April 17, 2010
In the 70′s one thing was rare in rock and roll. That was a rock band that was fronted by a woman. You had the Carly Simons and the Carole Kings but there just wasn’t that many “rocker chicks” making music in the 70′s. That was until 1975 when two sisters from Seattle, Washington released the album “Dreamboat Annie”. The record was a huge hit and was heard blasting out of the speakers of any rock station not only in America, but all over the world. The two sisters were Ann and Nancy Wilson. They followed up “Dreamboat Annie” with “Magazine”, “Little Queen”, “Dog & Butterfly” and many more. Each album spawned hit single after hit single. The hits kept coming and the band had even more success in the 80′s.
Heart stole my heart with that first album and I have been hooked ever since. I saw them perform many times in the 70′s but did not get to see them again until they played at the Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville, TN a couple of years ago. Since then I have went to every Heart show that I could. When I heard that they were playing in Chattanooga, TN and Tunica, MS last weekend, I started making plans for a rock and roll road trip.
I took off for Chattanooga after work on Thursday afternoon. The venue they played was called The Chattanooga Memorial Auditorium. A very nice place for a concert and I hope to get back there for another show some time. If you have been to a Heart show before you know that show time is near when you hear Pink Floyd, followed by The Who, over the sound system. After the closing notes of “Won’t Get Fooled Again” the lights went out and the members of the band came out on stage. One lone light shined on the stage to highlight the one and only Nancy Wilson strutting around the stage showing off the huge US Marine symbol on the back of her guitar. Then after a military salute from Nancy to the audience, one of the most recognized guitars riffs in rock and roll was blasting through the venue. Of course that song was “Barracuda.” The crowd went wild when Ann Wilson walked out to the center of the stage. I think this is a great song for them to start out with. It really gets the crowd in the mood for a great night of rock and roll. After the opening song Ann said it was great being in Chattanooga and that if you came to tango or fox trot you were on the wrong flight. With that they broke into one of their big hits from the 80′s “Never.” Something that I noticed during this song was that you could hear the crowd singing along to each and every word of the song. This was to go on for just about every song. Ann told us that the next song was written about her little sister Nancy. That song was one of my favorites “Kick It Out.” Two other classics followed, “Straight On” and another one of my favorites “Mistral Wind.” Ann really gets a chance to show off her pipes in this song. That is the reason I love it so much. The band took us back for another trip to the 80′s with the next song, “These Dreams.”
Next, Ann told the venue that they had just finished recording a new album called “Red Velvet Car.” She added that the execs at the record company couldn’t decide when would be a good time to put it out. So they decided to tour a little so the fans could get to hear some of the songs off the album. They did three songs from that new record. The first one was called “Hey You” and featured Nancy on the harpsichord. It was a very nice song. Next Ann told us what a “Red Velvet Car” was. She said the “Red Velvet Car” was a car owned by a friend who would always be there when you were in a bind. That friend who would be there for you no matter what. With that being said the band broke into the title track “Red Velvet Car.” For the next song, Ann said they couldn’t decide what to call the next song so they just called it “WTF.” It was a rocking song much like the ones Heart is known for.
After treating us to some new songs, Heart returned to the classics that made them famous back in “the good ole days.” “What About Love” was followed by “Alone”, two songs that Heart took to the top of the charts in the 1980′s. Heart always likes to cover some of their favorite bands live, as they continued into The Who’s, “Love Reign O’er Me.” Once again Ann’s vocals really shined bright on this song. The final song of the regular set was one of their very first hit singles. From the “Dream Boat Annie” album, “Crazy On You.” Ann has always extended the acoustic into in concert and I love hearing her play it and so did the crowd as they went crazy when they heard this.
Heart left the stage at this point, but the audience was not ready to let them go. After a few minutes they returned to the stage to treat the room to another cover song. This time it was Led Zeppelin’s “Going To California.” I enjoy it when they do the cover songs, but for the encore I would much rather hear their version of “Rock & Roll,” which is also a Zep song that was included on their “Greatest Hits” album from the 70′s or “The Immigrant Song” from Ann’s solo record, “Hope & Glory.” Once again Heart went back to the 70′s for the final encore song of the night as they performed another song which established their position on the rock and roll map, “Magic Man.” The crowd showed their appreciation of this song as well as the delight of the entire evening as Ann and Nancy Wilson, along with their band members said their final farewells and left the stage.
I want to mention that Nancy dedicated the song “These Dreams” to a girl named Paula that was standing close to me. Paula is a cancer survivor and I thought it was a very touching moment in the show, especially seeing Paula and Nancy make eye contact during the song. I am sure it was a good feeling to have Nancy Wilson sing a song to you.
The show two days later in Tunica featured the same set list. That show was at Harrah’s and in my opinion was the better of the two shows because I felt the sound was just a little better in that venue.
Ann and Nancy are backed by some fine musicians on stage; Craig Bartock on guitar, new member Christian Attard on bass, Ben Smith on drums and Debbie Shair on keyboards. Debbie is a real cutie, always with her hair in pigtails. She has wonderful stage presence and provides a great addition to the band.
When you see one of your all time favorite bands, it is often hard to see anything wrong with the show. The only two things that I saw wrong was 1) the three new songs that they did. Don’t get me wrong, they were great songs but the new record isn’t out yet. I think they should have just done the title track and left it at that. That way they could have done a couple more of their hits. 2) Their choice of covers. Like I said, I would have much rather have heard Led Zeppelin’s “Rock And Roll” if they had to do a cover song. For these two reasons I am going to have to take .7 points away and give them a 9.3 on the Concert Blast Scale.
Ann Wilson is about to be 60 years old and Nancy is 56, but you couldn’t tell it by their ability to rock. Heart is touring throughout the summer in support of the new “Red Velvet Car” album. I would suggest going to see them if they play in your area. I promise you will have a good time. Ann and Nancy can still deliver the good after all these years!!!
Submitted By James Downing
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